A Peach Aviation plane on a flight from Kushiro in Hokkaido to Kansai Airport in Osaka made an unscheduled stop at Niigata airport to offload an unruly passenger who refused to wear a face mask and was threatening cabin crew.
According to the airline and police, the incident occurred on Monday afternoon. Kyodo News reported the plane was about to take off when a cabin attendant noticed that the man wasn’t wearing a mask. The budget carrier, like all airlines in Japan, recommends passengers and crew to wear face masks to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
When the cabin attendant asked the man to wear a mask, he refused. Other passengers seated near him asked if they could move to other seats, saying they didn't want to be seated next to someone not wearing a mask, at which point the man became angry and started yelling at them, accusing them of slandering him. As a result, the plane’s departure was delayed by about 45 minutes and took off at 1:15 p.m.
After takeoff, a flight attendant asked the man once more to wear a mask but he refused. One of the cabin attendants told the man that a letter containing an official warning would be sent to him if he didn't cooperate. The man told them to go ahead and started abusing the attendants and other passengers.
The captain decided to divert the plane, carrying 124 passengers, to Niigata airport where police removed him. The plane took off and arrived at Kansai Airport about two hours late.
Airline officials said they plan to seek 500,000 yen in compensation from the man for the trouble and inconvenience he caused to the airline, the aircraft, passengers and crew.
The transport ministry said this is the first time such an incident involving a passenger not wearing a mask under the aviation industry's coronavirus regulations has occurred in Japan.© Japan Today/Kyodo